Arun Shourie

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Arun Shourie (अरुण शौरी) (born 2 November 1941) is an Indian economist,[1] journalist, author and politician. He has worked as an economist with the World Bank, a consultant to the Planning Commission of India, editor of the Indian Express and The Times of India and a minister in the government of India (1998–2004). He was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1982 and the Padma Bhushan in 1990.[2]


Arun Shourie
File:Arun Shourie.jpg
Shourie in 2009
Minister for Telecommunication & Information Technology[3]
In office
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded by Pramod Mahajan
Succeeded by Dayanidhi Maran
Member of Rajya Sabha
In office
In office
Personal details
Born (1941-11-02) 2 November 1941 (age 79)
Jalandhar, India
Political party Bhartiya Janata Party
Spouse(s) Anita
Children 1
Residence New Delhi
Alma mater St. Stephen's College, Delhi
Syracuse University (PhD in Economics)
Profession Journalist and former World Bank Economist
Awards Padma Bhushan (1990)
Website Arun Shourie Blog

Arun Shourie was born in Jalandar, India, on 2 November 1941.[4] He studied at Modern School, Barakhamba[citation needed] and did his bachelor's in Economics(H) from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University.[5] He obtained his doctorate in Economics from Syracuse University.

In a series of exposés, many of which he wrote himself, Shourie and the Indian Express, where he became Executive Editor in January 1979, uncovered corruption in the highest echelons of the government and exposed several major scandals, including what has been dubbed “India’s Watergate.”[6] Shourie started a one-man crusade in 1981 against Abdul Rehman Antulay, the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra State, who allegedly extorted millions of dollars from businesses dependent on state resources and put the money in a private trust named after Indira Gandhi. The story caused the eventual resignation of the chief minister and great embarrassment to Gandhi and her ruling Congress Party.[7] The story caused the eventual resignation of the state governor, the highest-ranking official in India ever forced from office by newspaper reporting, and great embarrassment to Gandhi and her ruling Congress Party.

Shourie's exposés resulted in a prolonged labour dispute at the Mumbai offices of the Indian Express, where a labour organizer with ties to Antulay encouraged workers to strike for a minimum wage double than what was paid at any other newspaper in India. It also resulted in a government crackdown that included a host of legal cases launched against the Indian Express by various agencies. In 1982, the paper's owner Ramnath Goenka fired Shourie as a result of continued government pressure.[8]

Between 1982 and 1986, Shourie wrote for various newspapers and magazines, at the same time as being General Secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties. He was appointed executive editor of the Times of India in 1986 but was lured back to the Indian Express by Goenka in 1987. Shourie launched an attack on then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi over the Bofors howitzer gun purchase scandal. This contributed to Rajiv Gandhi's defeat in the subsequent parliamentary elections.

Among the many battles Shourie fought for press freedom, perhaps the most famous was his crusade against the government’s proposal in 1988 to introduce a defamation bill. It was widely perceived that the bill had been introduced with unusual speed in the Parliament in an attempt to muzzle the Indian Express, and the entire media community joined Shourie and the Indian Express in condemning the move.

At one stage, there were 300 cases filed by the government against the Indian Express, and credit supply from banks was cut off. Shourie, however, continued his battle against government corruption until 1990, when differences on editorial policy forced him to resign from the Indian Express. The differences involved Shourie's opposition to the implementation of the Mandal Commission Report, that sought reservations in government jobs for Other Backward Classes (OBC), which were initiated by then Prime Minister V. P. Singh's government. After that, he devoted his energy to writing books and regular columns, which appeared in different languages in 30 newspapers across India. In 2000, he was named as one of the International Press Institute's 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the past 50 years.[9]

Shourie is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He has been a member of the Rajya Sabha and also held the office of the Minister of Disinvestment, Communication and Information Technology in the Government of India under Atal Bihari Vajpayee's prime ministership. As Disinvestment Minister, he led the sale of Maruti, VSNL, Hindustan Zinc among others. His position as Minister was a controversial one, but he and his secretary Pradip Baijal are much respected for kick-starting what people believe was a best-in-class process. In a poll of India’s top 100 CEOs in February 2004, he was ranked the most outstanding minister of Mr.Vajpayee’s government.[10]

Shourie was one of the loudest voices opposing the nomination of Pratibha Patil as the President of India in 2007. Arun Shourie authored two articles published as a booklet titled 'Does This Tainted Person Deserve to Become President of India?' in which he discussed the highly questionable past of the Congress candidate. In a detailed interview with Karan Thapar, Shourie gave voluminous proofs accusing Pratibha Patil and her kin of embezzling funds from Pratibha Mahila Sahakari Bank, a bank which she had founded and was in charge of. Reserve Bank of India (RBI), revoked the licence of the bank in 2003 after it was found out that the bank had illegally waived interest on loans given to many of Pratibha Patil’s family members.[11] Shourie also accused her of obstruction of justice and in a murder case against her brother G.N.Patil.

After the defeat of BJP in 2009 General Elections, Arun Shourie was one of the voices, besides Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh, within the BJP demanding introspection and accountability. Matters came to a flashpoint after the expulsion of senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh because of his book praising Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Shourie defended Jaswant Singh in his articles in the Indian Express and accused the former BJP Party President Rajnath Singh of high handedness using such choice phrases as "Humpty Dumpty" and "Alice in Blunderland".[12]


Shortly after receiving PhD in economics from Syracuse University Shourie joined World Bank as an economist in 1967 where he worked for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, between 1972–74, he was a consultant to the Indian Planning Commission and it was around this time that he began writing articles as a journalist, criticising economic policy.[4]


In 1975, during The Emergency imposed by then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, Shourie began writing for the Indian Express in opposition to what he saw as an attack on civil liberties. The newspaper, owned by Ramnath Goenka, was a focal point for the government's efforts at censorship.[4] He became a fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research in 1976.[13] In January 1979, Goenka appointed Shourie as executive editor of the newspaper, giving him a carte blanche to do with it as he saw fit.[4] He developed a reputation as an intelligent, fearless writer and editor who campaigned for freedom of the press, exposed corruption and defended civil liberties such that, in the words of Martha Nussbaum, "his dedication to the truth has won admiration throughout the political spectrum".[14]

Shourie was a winner of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1982, in the Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts category as "a concerned citizen employing his pen as an effective adversary of corruption, inequality and injustice."[13] In 2000, he was named as one of the International Press Institute's World Press Freedom Heroes. He has also been named International Editor of the Year Award and was awarded The Freedom to Publish Award.[4]


He was nominated from the state of Uttar Pradesh as a BJP representative for two successive tenures in the Rajya Sabha, thus being a Member of Parliament for 1998–2004 and 2004–2010.[citation needed] He held the office of the Minister of Disinvestment, Communication and Information Technology in the government of India under Vajpayee's prime ministership.[15] As Disinvestment Minister, he led the sale of Maruti, VSNL, Hindustan Zinc among others.[citation needed]

Shourie was among many who objected to The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986, which the government headed by Rajiv Gandhi proposed to alleviate communal violence and retain Muslim votes. Claimed by the government to be a reinforcement of India's constitutional secularism, it was widely criticised by both Muslims and Hindus. The liberals among them, says Ainslie Embree, saw it as "a capitulation to the forces of Islamic obscurantism, a return ... to the thirteenth century"; the Hindu revivalist critics thought it was "weakening Indian unity". Shourie wrote articles that tried to show that the treatment of women as required by the Quran would in fact offer them protection, although the application of Islamic law in practice was oppressing them. He was in turn criticised for what was perceived as a thinly-veiled attack on Islam itself, with Rafiq Zakaria, the Muslim scholar, saying that Shourie's concern for reform of Islam was in fact demonstrative of Hindu contempt that used the plight of Muslim women as an example of the backwardness of the community. Vir Sanghvi termed it "Hindu chauvinism with a liberal face".[16]

After the defeat of the BJP in 2009 general elections, Shourie asked for introspection and accountability within the party. He deplored factionalism within the party and those who brief journalists to aid their own agenda.[17]


Arun Shourie has written numerous books that, according to Nussbaum, are

recognisably the creation of a smart, determined, muckraking journalist, They are polemical, ad hominem, often extremely shrill in tone. ... But despite their style, the books are obviously the work of a brilliant man, with a wide if idiosyncratic learning, a passion for the freedoms of speech and press, and a desire to get beneath current events to address underlying issues.[18]

His writings have gained him a considerable following. They were initially on a diverse range of subjects related to his journalistic interests, including corruption[clarification needed] and polemics against B. R. Ambedkar and left-wing historians.[citation needed] He subsequently concentrated his polemicism mostly on issues relating to the detrimental effects of religion on society, producing critiques of Christianity, Hinduism[citation needed] and Islam. With the exception of Gandhi, he has little time for any religious thinker and, says Nussbaum, his books "nowhere ... seek to provide balance; nowhere is there a sense of complexity. All have the same mocking, superior tone."[19]

The historian D.N. Jha has accused Shourie of distorting his writings, and making false allegations of plagiarism against him. According to Jha, Shourie's views expressed in the book Eminent Historians, which concerned the NCERT controversy, contains "slander" and "has nothing to do with history."[20][21][22]


Arun Shourie has written about 26 books. He is known for his well-researched and thought-provoking writings. His writings have gained him a considerable following around the country, as well as several national and international honours. Among these are the Padma Bhushan, the Magsaysay Award, the Dadabhai Naoroji Award, the Astor Award, the K.S. Hegde Award and the International Editor of the Year Award and The Freedom to Publish Award.[23]

  • In Does He Know a Mother's Heart? Arun Shourie discusses the perennial question that has grappled mankind since eternity: "If there is a kind, compassionate, all-knowing God, how can there be extreme suffering in this world?". Shourie analyses various religious scriptures in his quest for the answer to this question. The book is also a personal narrative of a father whose son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child (Shourie's son Aditya is now 34 years old), and of a husband whose wife is a Parkinson's Disease patient. The personal narrative is particularly heart wrenching.[citation needed]
  • In We Must Have No Price, which is a collection of his articles published earlier in The Indian Express, and of his speeches in the Rajya Sabha and several lectures that he delivered at IIT Kanpur and elsewhere, Shourie presses for reforms in the higher education sector, in the economic sector and in political parties (specifically BJP, the party to which he belongs).
  • In his book Worshipping False Gods, Shourie criticized B.R. Ambedkar, the leader of Dalits, for alleged complicity with the British and lust for power and wealth. In pune his face was blackened by Dalit peoples for criticizing Ambedkar in his book.
  • In A Secular Agenda (1997, ISBN 81-900199-3-7), Shourie discusses various problems faced by India due to minority appeasement and pseudo-secularism practiced by the Indian politicians.[24] The book starts with a discourse on the definition of a nation. He cites examples of other nations in Europe to counter the arguments of people who do not consider India as one nation due to its different languages and religions. He argues for a Uniform Civil Code in the book[24] and the abolition of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. He also discusses the problem related to infiltration from Bangladesh and the inability of the Indian government to solve it.
  • Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud (1998, ISBN 81-900199-8-8) discusses the NCERT controversy in Indian politics and attacks Marxist historiography. Shourie asserts that Marxist historians have controlled and misused important institutions like the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), the National Council of Educational Research Training (NCERT) and a large part of academia and the media. He criticizes well-known historians like Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib. Shourie argues that Marxist historians have white-washed the records of rulers like Mahmud of Ghazni and Aurangzeb. Shourie presents examples to further his argument of how many of these text books describe in great detail foreign personalities like Karl Marx or Joseph Stalin, while they often barely mention important figures of India or of the Indian states. Shourie writes that this is in contrast to Russian Marxist text books. The standard Soviet work A History of India (1973) is according to Shourie much more objective and truthful than the history books written by the Indian Marxists.

As is invariably the case with Shourie writings, this work is too backed up by meticulous research and documentary evidence, which helps him reveal the truth, howsoever bitter it might be.

  • In Falling Over Backwards: An essay against Reservations and against Judicial populism, Shourie examines the history of reservations as to why they were originally introduced, the relevant sections in the Indian Constitution and the reasoning behind the exact words used. He then cites the rulings of courts to emphasise on the degeneration of judiciary from an upholder of the original values to openly flouting them. He examines how the Constitution was generously interpreted by consecutive court rulings to arrive at conclusions completely opposite to what the Constitution makers originally intended. He cites exact rulings and judgements to make his point. He then proceeds to discuss the introduction of reservations in promotions, the Rooster System, the arrival at the 50% limit and the subsequent flouting of it. Next, he proceeds to the logic behind the Mandal recommendations and the basis on which the same were made. He then examines the base of the commissions rulings, i.e., the 1931 census (the last time caste-based census was held in India), and showcases how the findings, ambiguous to begin with by the census takers' own admissions, was conveniently used by the commission. In the final part of the book, Shourie examines the effects of reservations in bureaucracy and elsewhere, citing specific examples and cases to highlight the absurdness that has set in and its adverse effect on the institutions. He discusses the future that the trend portends, and makes ominous predictions if the slide is not stopped. Shourie ends by quoting Nehru's remarks on reservations 'This way lies not folly, but disaster.'
  • Governance and the sclerosis that has set in: Arun Shourie discusses the rot prevalent in the bureaucracy and the inordinate delay that accompanies every task. Various cases are cited along with their timeline and their motion through the various channels bringing home the inefficiency of the structure. Shourie also discusses certain incidents involving his stint as the Disinvestment minister in the Vajpayee government. Lack of efficacy of various state governments, PSUs and departments is also discussed. Shourie suggests doing away with obsolete legislation and simplifying the processes.
  • The World of Fatwas or the Sharia in Action: Shourie discusses the concept of fatwas, the premises surrounding the sharia code of laws, its universality and how it is being used as a tool to keep the Muslim masses in a state of agitated isolation. He exposes the secular view of Islam's institutions and its ulemas in India as being incomplete and shrouded in hypocrisy. He discusses the need of a concerted program of reform headed by Muslim Liberals to vitiate the deleterious effects of the all-pervading power of the ulema. He also touches upon some contemporary issues such as the Shah Bano case and dissects the response of the fundamentalists as being symptomatic of the view of women as second class citizens propagated by particular interpretations of the Quran and the Hadis. The book also focusses on the conflict between the world view advocated by the fatwas and that of modern science.



IIT Kanpur[edit]

In 2000, Shourie pledged the entire amount (Rs. 120 million) of discretionary spending available to him under Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) to setting up of Bio-Sciences & Bio-engineering Department at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur.[25] In 2005, he again pledged Rs. 110 million for developing a separate building for Environmental Sciences and Environmental Engineering at the institute.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Shourie is married to Anita, and they have a son.[26] His sister is the journalist Nalini Singh.[5]


  • In a word, no forcible conversions, no massacres, no destruction of temples. ... Muslim historians of those times are in raptures at the heap of Kafirs [sic] who have been dispatched to hell. Muslim historians are forever lavishing praise on the ruler for the temples he has destroyed, ... Law books like The Hedaya prescribe exactly the options to which these little textbooks alluded. All whitewashed away. Objective whitewash for objective history. And today if anyone seeks to restore truth to these textbooks, the shout, "Communal rewriting of history."
    • Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud
  • They have made present-day India, and Hinduism even more so, out to be a zoo - an agglomeration of assorted, disparate specimens. No such thing as "India", just a geographical expression, just a construct of the British; no such thing as Hinduism, just a word used by Arabs to describe the assortment they encountered, just an invention of the communalists to impose a uniformity - that has been their stance. For this they have blackened the Hindu period of our history, and, as we shall see, strained to whitewash the Islamic period.
    • Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud (p. x)
  • [Consider Arun Shourie's rewording of the dominant paradigm:] 'Caste is real. The working class is real. Being a Naga is real. But 'India is just a geographical expression!' Similarly, being a Muslim, of course, is real (...) But Hinduism? Why, there is no such thing: it is just an aggregation, a pile of assorted beliefs and practices. In a word, the parts alone are real. The whole is just a construct.' [Numerous Indians including the Muslims for thirteen centuries have had no difficulty recognizing some basic cultural traits collectively designated as Hindu. If today's intellectuals cannot recognize these, the problem may well be in the eye of the beholder. Shourie, for one, does not believe in their good faith:] 'The beginning of reconstruction, therefore, the sine qua non for it, is to overturn the intellectual fashions set by these intellectuals, and defeat their verbal terrorism.'
    • A Shourie: 'Parts talk and anti-ourselves talk', Observer of Business and Politics, 15-11-1996. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743

Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud[edit]

  • In a word, no forcible conversions, no massacres, no destruction of temples. ... Muslim historians of those times are in raptures at the heap of Kafirs [sic] who have been dispatched to hell. Muslim historians are forever lavishing praise on the ruler for the temples he has destroyed, ... Law books like The Hedaya prescribe exactly the options to which these little textbooks alluded. All whitewashed away. Objective whitewash for objective history. And today if anyone seeks to restore truth to these textbooks, the shout, "Communal rewriting of history."
  • They have made present-day India, and Hinduism even more so, out to be a zoo - an agglomeration of assorted, disparate specimens. No such thing as "India", just a geographical expression, just a construct of the British; no such thing as Hinduism, just a word used by Arabs to describe the assortment they encountered, just an invention of the communalists to impose a uniformity - that has been their stance. For this they have blackened the Hindu period of our history, and, as we shall see, strained to whitewash the Islamic period.
  • Their deceitful role in Ayodhya ... was just symptomatic... How does this concern square with the guidelines issued by their West Bengal government... - "Muslim rule should never atttact any criticism. Destruction of temples by Muslim rulers and invaders should not be mentioned?

Quotes about Arun Shourie[edit]

  • Muslim leaders and Stalinist historians were raising a howl about Hindu chauvinism when it came to the notice of Arun Shourie, the Chief Editor of the Indian Express at that time, that some significant passages had been omitted from the English translation of an Urdu book written long ago by the father of Ali Mian, the famous Muslim theologian from Lucknow. He wrote an article, Hideaway Communalism, in the Indian Express of February 5, 1989 pointing out how the passages regarding destruction of Hindu temples and building of mosques on their sites at Delhi, Jaunpur, Kanauj, Etawah, Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura had been dropped from the English translation published by Ali Mian himself. This was a new and dramatic departure from the norm observed so far by the prestigious press. Publishing anything which said that Islam was less than sublime had been taboo for a long time. I was pleasantly surprised, and named Arun Shourie as the Gorbachev of India. He had thrown open the windows and let in fresh breeze in a house full of the stinking garbage of stale slogans.
    • Goel, S.R. How I became a Hindu (1993, revised ed.)
  • Arun Shourie had shown great courage. But he had counted without the secularist crowd which had access to the owner of the Indian Express. He told me on the phone that there was some trouble brewing. I have never talked to him about the nature of the trouble, and do not know if my articles had anything to do with his ouster from the Indian Express next year. All I know is that he had to slow down the publication of my next two articles.
    • Goel, S.R. How I became a Hindu (1993, revised ed.)
  • Mani Shankar Aiyar totally condemns one of Arun Shourie's books, and then goes on to declare that he has decided not to read it : "Shourie gave the final touches to the manuscript of his book on Islam, a work so vicious and perverted that every English speaking Muslim I know was outraged... I decided then to show my solidarity with secularism by not reading the book." (The book he refers to, is apparently Shourie's Religion in Politics, a very sane and sober look at several Scriptures in the light of reason.)
    • Elst, Koenraad. Ayodhya and after: issues before Hindu society. Voice of India. 1991.
  • The problem of book-banning and censorship on Islam criticism is compounded by the related problem of self- censorship. Thus, when in late 1992, the famous columnist Arun Shourie wanted to publish a collection of his columns on Islamic fundamentalism, esp. the Rushdie and Ayodhya affairs (Indian Controversies), the publisher withdrew at the last moment, afraid of administrative or physical reprisals, and the printer also backed out. Earlier, Shourie had been lucky to find one paper willing to publish these columns, for most Indian newspapers strictly keep the lid on Islam criticism. Hindu society is a terrorized society.
    • Elst, Koenraad. Negationism in India: concealing the record of Islam. Voice of India. 1992
  • Arun Shourie was sacked as Indian Express editor, apparently under government pressure, after revealing that, in October 1990, Prime Minister V.P. Singh had aborted his own compromise arrangement on Ayodhya under pressure from Imam Bukhari, prominent member of the BMAC.
    • Koenraad Elst. Ayodhya: the case against the temple. 2002



  2. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 International Press Institute
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Nalini Singh's daughter Ratna writes novel about mother-daughter troubled relationship". The Sunday Guardian. 9 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. India's Watergate : a study of political corruption in India / G. S. Bhargava | National Library of Australia
  8. The Arun Shourie Site
  9. "World Press Freedom Heroes: Symbols of courage in global journalism". International Press Institute. 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Arun Shourie on BJP – Final Part « Offstumped – Commentary on Indian Politics
  11. Pratibha Patil
  12. Arun Shourie hits out at BJP top leadership - Indian Express
  13. 13.0 13.1 Magsaysay Foundation (2012)
  14. Nussbaum (2009), p. 61
  15. Jaffrelot, Christophe, ed. (2009). Hindu Nationalism: A Reader. Princeton University Press. p. 344. ISBN 978-1-40082-803-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Embree (1990), pp. 107-111
  17. Indian Express (2009)
  18. Nussbaum (2009), p. 62
  19. Nussbaum (2009), p. 63
  20. "Grist to the reactionary mill". Indian Express. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "How History Was Unmade At Nalanda! D N Jha". Kafila. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Votes do not guide intellectuals: D N Jha". Business Standard. 9 November 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. International Press Institute
  24. 24.0 24.1 "A Secular Agenda". Retrieved 2006-09-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Shourie gives Rs 12 crore to IIT-Kanpur!
  26. God's an invention to suit society's needs: Arun Shourie


    • Investigative Journalism in India By S. K. Aggarwal

External links[edit]

Wikiquote:Arun Shourie Missionaries in India [9] [10] [11][12]